Guest Post from John Pfeiffer: ALTA and Marriage? It’s Love-Love (Part 2)

19 Jul

Welcome back readers! Earlier this week, we introduced you to our guest blogger, John Pfeiffer of We’re continuing our series with post two of two. I hope you enjoy and have a great day, Scott Hanley. (P.S. Did you miss Part 1? Here’s the link :

ALTA and Marriage? It’s Love-Love (Part 2)

It seems that in the crucible of competition, you are playing with a lot of passion and emotion. As your emotions run high, it’s easy for you to forget things like, say, manners. You may also forget to use that magical filter that stops certain thoughts that occur in your brain from reaching your mouth. Manners and the magical filter, they are important methods you can use to not insult the person you are playing with. As for your spouse, you have seen them at their best and at their worst. You have seen them after their best successes, and you have seen them go to the bathroom, an activity at which nobody looks cool. You have intimate knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses, how often they do boneheaded things, etc. Most spouses also know how to pierce each other’s armor like nobody else. It is probably this intimate level of familiarity that causes the manners to disappear and the magic filter to remain turned “off”.

So if you are out there on the court, where competitive players take winning pretty seriously, and going into the match you just had a fight with your partner, a breakdown in team chemistry is sure to follow. And in tennis, for those who do not play, mistakes are frequent. You may attempt a strategy that looked grand in theory, only to fail miserably in execution. You often hit the ball out of play, and on certain cursed days, even miss what would usually qualify as “simple” shots. All of these instances and more can lead to sharp criticism, which can make tempers flare. You KNOW you are not playing well: having it sarcastically pointed out to you only increases you anger and frustration. A “Top Gun”-like death spiral can ensue, and you and your partner can only focus on topping each other’s insults, not playing the opponent or hitting quality shots.

With the desire to win, and the fact that you have to count on your partner, it just seems any chink in the marital armor comes to the forefront. If you are fighting about any issues, or have any habits that annoy each other, these come onto the court along with you can of balls and tennis racquet. If you are the aforementioned overbearing jerk, and you proceed to shove your wife out of the way to hit a shot, how can she not relate one to the other? And what if after all that, you miss?

As bad as all of the (kind of) under the breath comments about each other’s performance can get, and irritate, then you may face the next level of pain: you lose the match. Although some can shrug it off, to others it can ruin several days. True story: my wife and I once lost a match after leading 5-0 in the third set (you play best 2 out of 3). We bought a dog later that day. It seemed like the only way we could distract ourselves from playing “I can’t believe when you did this…..”.

I know non-tennis players first reaction is to not take things so seriously. I understand that point of view. I think the people who do not take it seriously probably do not go ahead and join an organized league. Whether you are a competitive person, or reliving your past athletic glory, ALTA tennis is a place where you enjoy playing and have an outlet for your competitive sportsman. Some people have bowling leagues. Others golf every weekend. But for a certain group of Atlantans, ALTA is where it is at. I’ve played in the rain and the snow. I’ve played in temperatures above 100 degrees F and below freezing. Nobody thought of leaving the court.

Statistics show marriage is hard enough. Playing recreational tennis seems like one of those instances where there is very little upside (winning a match) and a lot of downside (fighting with each other), and should be avoided at all costs. When it comes to this, I think the score is “Love-Love”, as in, nobody wins. Go play with other people. Then your choices are A) that you actually relax and enjoy the activity, or B) bond over telling each other how horrible your respective partners are. I strongly recommend choice B. It will bring you closer. Instead of spending the weekend with a negative shared experience, you two lovebirds can go grab a meal together, and reminisce about your respective matches. You can laugh at your heroics or failures, sharing and enjoying each other’s company.


My wife and I have avoided the trap of playing together for years. We were wise enough to have learned the lessons detailed above. This season we have been really enjoying ourselves, winning a few matches and enjoying being active outdoors. During a particularly nostalgic moment, we decided to play together during PRACTICE. As in, it’s a friendly game amongst teammates. Nothing was at stake here. We have known the team for a little while, a nice people. Low stress environment, get together for a little practice, exercise, etc. So what happens? You guessed it, after playing together an hour and a half in practice, we were right back to the fighting. It was a disaster. We are just glad we didn’t do this in a match!


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